New Zealand is set to have a National-led government. But with over 500,000 special votes left to be counted, what that government looks like is still undecided.
National gained 39% of the country’s party votes in what has been called a “bloodbath” election and it’s projected by the Electoral Commission that the party will have 50 seats in Parliament.
But that’s not a majority - so National has to form a coalition to govern.
Early on, National has indicated they would enter a coalition agreement with right-wing libertarians ACT - who gained 9% of party votes and is projected to have 11 seats.
But whether that’s still enough is up in the air and this leads the door potentially open to New Zealand First, a minor party that gained 6.5% of the party vote.
So here’s what has been happening.
National and New Zealand First teams have spoken
Speaking to Breakfast on Monday, Prime Minister-elect Christopher Luxon said their teams had spoken.
He said he would not go into this further as he wanted to “work respectfully with each of the political parties that are involved”.
“We’re gonna form a strong, stable government. That’s really important.”
National is focusing on three things at the moment
Luxon said National was waiting for the special votes to be counted.
“That’ll take up to November 3 before we have clarity on the election result.”
There are a lot of “dynamics at play” with special votes, he said.
Luxon said the party wanted to take this time to progress relationships and start conversations “around arrangements with respective parties”.
National also wanted to make sure there was a smooth transition into government with the outgoing Labour government.
A new generation of politicians are set to enter Parliament
At 21, Hana-Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke will be the youngest MP in 170 years.
Maipi-Clarke won the Hauraki-Waikato electorate, defeating Nanaia Mahuta - the country’s longest continuously-serving female MP.
Maipi-Clarke said winning that seat was not about herself.
“It’s about the generation to come, and it’s about giving everything that we have.”
Alongside Maipi-Clarke, there’s Tākuta Ferris for Te Tai Tonga who unseated Labour’s Rino Tirikatene. Tirikatene has held that seat since 2011.
With Labour currently leading in Tāmaki Makaurau, Te Tai Tokerau and Ikaroa-Rāwhiti, Te Pāti Māori has secured four of the seven Māori electorates.
Te Pāti Māori co-leaders Rawiri Waititi will and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer will return to Parliament after successfully retaining their seats for Waiariki and Te Tai Hauāuru.
Meanwhile, the Green Party has secured Auckland Central and Wellington Central.
Since 1905, Wellington Central has predominantly been won by Labour MPs and this year, 26-year-old Tamatha Paul turned this traditionally safe Labour seat, green.
Chlöe Swarbrick, 29, has retained her electorate.
Brooke van Velden, who turned 31 last weekend, won the Tamaki electorate. She told 1News that it doesn’t really matter what her age or gender is. “I’m here for good public policy.”
The race is tight for Te Atatū and votes are still being counted, but National's Angee Nicholas, 29, could take the win against Labour’s Phil Twyford.
‘Huge loss’ for Pacific communities
If Nicholas wins, she will be National’s only Pacific MP in government.
Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni and Cabinet Minister Barbara Edmonds will be sitting on the opposition benches. Also heading to Parliament but on the opposition benches, are Labour’s Jenny Salesa, Lemauga Lydia Sosene and Tangi Utikere, and Greens’ Teanau Tuiono and Efeso Collins.
Voter turnout in South and South-East Auckland, which in the past have been strongholds for Labour - was noticeably lower than previous election years.
On election night, Salesa who retained her Panmure-Ōtāhuhu seat, and acknowledged the Pasifika MPs who were not returning to Parliament.
This includes Terisa Ngobi and Neru Leavasa who was first elected in 2020, and Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki who has been a List MP since 2017.
“It’s a huge loss for Pacific people overall,” Salesa told 1News.
“If you look at just the investment that has been made over the last six years, specifically towards Pacific people, it’s a huge increase right across the board,” she said.
“Having Pacific people as representatives actually gives you that advantage. Having the large number of Pacific people we had advocating and sitting around the table made sure that Pacific people were not forgotten and that the voices of our communities was at the forefront.”
“For that reason, I’m not looking forward to a change in government,” Salesa said.
Labour received 26.9% of the country’s party votes and is projected to have 34 seats.
On election night, Labour leader Chris Hipkins said the party would take time to “reflect and refresh” in its new role as the Opposition.
Hipkins said Labour would keep fighting for working people.
“When the tide comes in big, it almost invariably goes out big as well … but Labour is still here, it is not going anywhere, and we will get up again as we have done many times before.”
Since then, there has been conversations around whether Hipkins will remain Labour’s leader.
Labour’s outgoing MP for Ilam Sarah Pallet told RNZ it was too early to say.
“I think we’re all just dealing with our own individual news,” Pallet said. “The bigger future right now for the party is not on my radar at the moment.”
Was Labour too negative during the campaign?
Labour’s campaign chair Megan Woods told Q+A it was “far too early” to reflect on the party’s campaign and what they could have done better.
As with any campaign - and any losing campaign, Woods said, they would have to go back and review it.
She echoed what Hipkins said about tides going in and going out. “That mood for change was just so strong out there. I think that was something that was coming through really clearly and we’ve seen this around the world as well with Covid incumbent governments.”
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